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tv   NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt  NBC  December 15, 2017 7:00pm-7:30pm EST

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breaking news tonight on your taxes. republicans appear to have the votes to pass their sweeping plan. a once in a generation change that affects every american. and we now know the tax brackets, what you'll pay depending on how much you make. is president trump dangling the possibility of a pardon for michael flynn who is cooperating with the mueller investigation? >> i don't want to talk about pardons for michael flynn yet. we'll see what happens. let's see. >> what did he mean by "yet"? shocking apathy at penn state. a scathing report after the hazing death of a young fraternity pledge. a mysterious disappearance in north korea. did kim jong-un have his right-hand man executed? a woman who accuses matt lauer of using his position to pressure her into a sexual relationship
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first television interview. and a surprise in store this holiday shopping season, and how to make sure your packages arrive by christmas. this is nbc "nightly news" with lester holt. good evening. they're not dancing in the end zone yet, but republicans say the goal line is in sight to pass their sweeping tax plan and change your bottom line as soon as the coming week. senate and house negotiators sweetening the pot at the last minute to bring a key holdout senator on board, appearing to give them the votes needed for passage. republicans are trumpeting it as a tax cut for the middle class, but there have been some late changes this evening as to who will get relief and for how long. our peter alexander has the final numbers and how they'll impact you. >> reporter: tonight on capitol hill, the pieces are in place and so are the votes. >> the conference committee has come together, and we've delivered for the american people. >> reporter: republicans making last-minute changes to
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the razor thin margin in the senate. marco rubio now a yes after demanding an increase in the child tax credit, up from $1100 to $1400 in irs refunds per child. senator bob corker, once a holdout, also on board. what else is in the final bill? seven new tax brackets. the average family with a joint income of $70,000 a year will pay 12% instead of 15. a cut for the highest earners, too, singles making a half million dollars, couples making $600,000 will see their tax rate drop from nearly 40% to 37. >> yes, it's a tax cut for the middle class somewhat, but the giant part really goes to the wealthy. >> reporter: republicans tonight confident. are you happy with what you've seen in the bill? >> i'm really happy, peter. i think it's going to provide the middle class tax relief that's desperately needed right now. >> reporter: president trump praising the plan as monumental. >> i think it's going to do very, very well. i think that we're going to be in a position to pass something as early as
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[000:02:59;00] >> reporter: still, a majority of americans disapprove of the republican bill that democrats call a sham. >> when people look back and see these giveaways to the multinational corporations, they're going to say this is one of the biggest rip-offs since the gilded age. >> reporter: the bill also delivers a serious wound to obamacare, eliminating the individual mandate even as americans rush to beat today's 2018 enrollment deadline. one more key element in the final bill, the tax cut for corporations is permanent, but the cut for individuals and married couples expires in eight years. the house is scheduled to vote first tuesday. lester? >> peter alexander on capitol hill tonight, thank you. the gop tax plan is generating a fair amount of concern among the nation's 1.6 million charities that depend on tax deductible donations. even as many give out of the goodness of their hearts there have been other reasons, too. but since the new standard deduction we just heard about is doubling, far fewer americans are expected
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to itemize their deductions, taking away a financial incentive to donate to charities. here's nbc's tom costello. >> reporter: despite bitter cold, the manna food center in maryland is bustling. 32,000 people a year including school kids and seniors like rosemary reed looking for a meal. >> to me this place means i won't go to bed hungry. it's a blessing to me and my grandkids. >> reporter: half the donations here come from individuals. now fear that much of that could dry up as the new higher standard deduction eliminates the financial incentive for most families to itemize deductions including charitable donations. >> it's human nature. people want to be generous. they want to give, but they also do it because they get a reward. they get that tax break. >> reporter: by one estimate 28 million fewer americans could itemize their deductions, and that could lead to a $13 billion drop in charitable donations. 1.6 million charities
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rely on donationsro schools, clinics, animal shelters, art and culture. >> people give because they care about something that has touched their hearts, and they want to make a difference in world. that's something that we really feel strongly needs to be preserved in our country. >> reporter: the average individual donation to the salvation army $150. >> last night 28,000 people spent a night at a salvation army bed somewhere in the united states. there would be no salvation army if it wasn't for individual donations. >> reporter: the nation's charities insist they are not tax loopholes but rather life lines for causes that americans believe in. the advice tonight -- if you have a favorite charity, donate now. tom costello, nbc news, gaithersburg, maryland. meantime tonight, as he awaits that upcoming tax vote, president trump is making headlines of his own first by seeming to dangle at least the possibility of pardon for michael flynn even as flynn cooperaties with the
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mueller investigation. then later the president speaking at [000:05:58;00] the bureau is in tatters. we get all the details from nbc's kristen welker. >> reporter: a defiant president trump today not ruling out a pardon for his ousted national security adviser michael flynn who pleaded guilty to lying to the fbi about his contacts with the russian ambassador. >> would you consider a pardon for michael flynn? >> i don't want to talk about pardons for michael flynn yet. we'll see what happens. >> reporter: a lawyer for the president saying there is no consideration at all for a pardon for michael flynn at this time. a big question as investigators probe potential obstruction charges when the president learned flynn had lied to the fbi. >> you know the answer. how many times has that question been asked? >> reporter: the president once again insisted -- >> there is absolutely no collusion. that has been proven. >> reporter: but congressional investigators say they're still digging. >> the issue of collusion is still open, that we continue to investigate.
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>> reporter: the president saving some of his sharpest words for the fbi. he recently said the bureau's reputation is in tatters after revelations a top official was removed from the special counsel investigation for sending disparaging text messages about mr. trump. >> it's a shame what's happened with the fbi, but we're going to rebuild the fbi. it will be bigger and better than ever. >> reporter: later speaking at the fbi training academy, the president held his fire. >> it's an honor to stand here. >> reporter: the president has lashed out at the fbi since before the election. those attacks now getting sharper. >> they're clearly in response to the intensity of this investigation as it moves closer to the oval office. >> reporter: lester, also tonight a federal judge ruled paul manafort, the fomer trump campaign chair, who was the first to be indicted, will now be released from home detention. still, manafort has a curfew and he can't leave the country. kristen welker at the white house
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tonight, thank you. what advocates call a wake-up call for parents nationwide as more colleges crack down on fraternity grand jury report slams penn state university in the wake of a tragic death alleging, quote, shocking apathy and a lack of oversight that allowed a culture of underage drinking to flourish for years. nbc's gabe gutierrez has more. >> reporter: after a ten-month investigation following the death of pledge tim piazza, the grand jury report finds that penn state officials displayed a shocking apathy to the dangers of excessive drinking and blasts the student-run interfraternity council. >> the ifc self-regulation was a joke and catastrophe. penn state allowed these students to police themselves, and the results were absolutely predictable. >> reporter: 26 people face criminal charges in piazza's death. the report finds hazing is rampant and pervasive and includes sadistic rituals including not just underage drinking but
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requiring pledges to kill and skin animals and exercise on floors covered with broken glass. >> if universities own fix the problem. >> reporter: on the same week a grand jury in texas indicted a fraternity for a 2016 hazing incident at the university of houston. this new pennsylvania report calls on the state to pass stronger laws to deter the practice. the grand jury also considered the case of marquisebrahah who killed himself in 2014 after hazing at penn state altoona. >> those boys who died, my son who died, their lives weren't misdemeanors to their families. >> reporter: penn state strongly disagrees with parts of the report saying it misunderstands or entirely disregards the university's tangible commitment to improving safety. but the university also says its efforts are limited by the unwillingness of national fraternities to challenge behaviors that's been accepted for years. gabe gutierrez, nbc news. one of president trump's nominees to be a federal judge had a tough time at his confirmation hearing. unable to answer even
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basic questions for someone up for that position. it's a video that's gone viral, but the president has been judicial nominees confirmed. here's nbc news justice correspondent pete williams. >> raise your right hand. >> reporter: it was not a good day for matthew peterson, a trump nominee for a lifetime appointment as a federal judge. senator john kennedy, a louisiana republican, asked about his courtroom experience. >> have you ever tried a jury trial? >> i have not. >> civil? >> no. >> criminal? >> no. >> bench? >> no. >> state or federal court? >> i have not. >> have you ever argued a motion in federal court? >> no. >> reporter: nor could he answer basic questions about trials like the expert witness rule. >> can you tell me what the dobear standard is? >> senator kennedy, i don't have that readily at my disposal. >> reporter: or a common method for blocking trial evidence. >> do you know what a
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motion in limine is? >> i would not be able to give you a good definition here at the table. >> reporter: peterson served on the federal election commission with don mcgahn, the current white house counsel, and conceded his background isn't trial work. >> i understand the challenge that would be ahead of me if i were fortunate enough to become a district court judge. >> reporter: he's not the first trump nominee facing headwinds. allegations that brett tally once blogged in support of the kkk helped sink his nomination. and the white house gave up on jeff matiere who called transgender children part of satan's plan. but overall the administration is doing well with judicial picks. the senate has confirmed 12 trump nominees to the federal appeals court. that's a record for a president's first year in office. in president obama's first year he had only three. >> pete williams, thank you. now to the mystery swirling about the disappearance in north korea. kim jong-un's top general, one of his closest aides and a family face, has suddenly vanished and there is speculation
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that the north korean leader may have had him executed and, if so, why? foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell. >> reporter: one of kim jong-un's top generals often at his side, but tonight he's vanished. his whereabouts a growing mystery. south korean intelligence agencies reporting he may have been executed. if so, he joins a long list including kim jong-un's uncle executed for treason, a defense minister killed for falling asleep in a meeting and kim's half-brother and one-time rival assassinated with a chemical weapon in a crowded airport. kim jong-un's inner circle never certain whether they will live or die. >> kim is running a mafia-style government and many of the leaders die horrifically, cruelly, under torture. it would not be surprising in the least that this particular general vanished. >> reporter: the president today saying he just told vladimir putin he needs to do more to cut off aid to the rogue regime. >> russia is not helping. we'd like to have russia's help.
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very important. >> reporter: while at the u.n. the secretary of state under white house pressure about negotiating with kim after conciliatory comments only three days ago. >> we can talk about the weather if you want. >> reporter: today laying down a much harder line closer to the president's. >> north korea must earn its way back to the table. the pressure campaign must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved. >> reporter: tillerson did have a face-off with north korea's u.n. ambassador telling him that he alone is to blame for illegally detonating nuclear devices. the north korean blamed the u.s. for threatening the regime. >> andrea mitchell at the state department for us tonight, andrea thank you. now to the latest woman to speak out about matt lauer. in her first television interview she talks about the secret affair she claims lauer pressured her into nearly 20 years ago. also an attorney for the first woman to level accusations against lauer says his
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client has fears for her privacy. nbc's stephanie gosk has more. >> reporter: the backlash aga a times vulgar. >> what is happening to me right now on social media and some of the comments is exactly why we don't speak out because i'm being labeled a home wrecker and i'm being labeled a whore and an attention seeker. >> reporter: zinone was a 24-year-old production assistant, she says, when she began a sexual relationship with lauer, the high profile anchor. she tells us it was consensual, but she felt enormous pressure. >> i was so naive, and the most important influential man at nbc news who i idolized was now flattering me and he knew i was good prey, and i fell for it. >> reporter: nbc executives fired matt lauer for inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace after a different woman came forward to the company last month. few details are known including the nature of her relationship with lauer or her identity.
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>> my client is terrified. she does live in constant fear that people are going to, you know, track her [000:14:58;00] >> reporter: the woman's lawyer, ari wilkenfeld, says nbc hasn't done enough to protect her. can you be specific on where they've fallen short? >> i can say that nbc has a duty to maintain confidentiality. they have not done a good jb of doing that. >> reporter: wilkenfeld would not elaborate or provide details. in a past statement he wrote that nbc acted quickly and responsibly. an nbc news spok spokesperson said the network has protected the employee's anonymity all along and will continue to do so. we reached out to lauer's representatives who declined to comment. zinone says she spoke out to support those women who are staying anonymous. >> if these women are being doubted and people need to see proof to believe what these women are alleging, then i'm the prove. >> reporter: stephanie gosk, nbc news, new
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york. there's a lot more to tell you about tonight. still ahead, holiday shopping surprise. why sales are soaring this year. which great deals you how to get free shipping if you act fast. also, save the date. prince harry and meghan markle reveal which day they'll be married. patrick woke up with a sore back. but he's got work to do. so he took aleve this morning. if he'd taken tylenol, he'd be stopping for more pills right now. only aleve has the strength to stop tough pain for up to 12 hours with just one pill. tylenol can't do that. aleve. all day strong. all day long. we make sure you're in the loop at every step from the moment you decide to move your money to the instant your new retirement account is funded. because when you know where you stand, things are just clearer. -♪ a little bit o' soul, yeah
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i would doubt myself that i could actually quit.tand, that i could climb that hill and get over it. i really honestly don't believe i could have done it without chantix. along with support, chantix (varenicline) is proven to help people quit smoking. chantix reduced my urge to smoke. when you try to quit smoking, with or without chantix, you may have nicotine withdrawal symptoms. some people had changes in behavior or thinking, aggression, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, or suicidal thoughts or actions with chantix. serious side effects may include seizures, new or worse heart or blood vessel problems, sleepwalking or allergic and skin reactions which can be life-threatening. stop chantix and get help right away if you have any of these. tell your healthcare provider if you've had depression or other mental health problems. decrease alcohol use while taking chantix. use caution when driving or operating machinery. the most common side effect is nausea.
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it feels so good to say, "i'm a non-smoker." ask your doctor if chantix is right for you. many insurance plans cover chantix for a low or $0 copay. if you want to finish your shopping before christmas eve, this is the last full weekend to do it. and here's some early holiday cheer. retail sales are soaring. more than double expectations. nbc's jo ling kent explains why and has the scoop on some amazing deals and free shipping. >> reporter: christmas is still ten days away, but retailers are already celebrating this holiday season. >> i think people are feeling a little less stressed to purchase items this year. >> business has been good. >> reporter: powering the growth, online shopping which shot up more than 10% this year. >> it's a sign of high consumer confidence, very strong employment and the thought that next year is going to continue to be good.
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>> reporter: to keep the shopping momentum going today 950 retailers including amazon, macy's, target, and the children's place, are it may only be available for certain items or require a minimum purchase. to ensure your packages arrive by christmas, december 18th is the last day for u.p.s. three-day select shipping. december 19th the final day for first class mail and u.p.s. express saver. >> this weekend isn't likely to have as many deals as you'll see next weekend. if you can handle the stress of delaying your shopping trips, you probably will see better deals. >> reporter: three of the top deals online and in stores, $150 off this dji mini spark drone at target. 20% off the amazon echo and 120 bucks off an apple watch at best buy. after a tumultuous year in retail, shoppers giving stores a reason to be merry this holiday season. jo ling kent, nbc news, los angeles. still ahead tonight, need a break from your ex on facebook? the new feature you'll want to hear about. >> so true.
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my mouth feels so clean. i'll only use an oral-b. oral-b. brush like a pro. save the date and get those fascinat the palace says prince harry and his american fiancee, meghan markle, will tie the knot on may 19th, 2018. the wedding will take place in st. george's chapel at windsor castle. first they'll spend their first christmas as an engaged couple with the queen at her sandringham senate. and speaking of weddings, a pair of nfl fan s tied the knot before the thursday night matchup between the colts and broncos. overseeing the nuptials blue, the colt's mascot. but blue doesn't actually talk so he officiated with cue cards. facebook is rolling out new features. the new snooze button lets you mute content from friends, pages or groups for 30 days. it's for folks you don't want to unfriend but they tend to overpost and you need a break. if you're suffering from a broken heart, the new take a break feature temporarily limits the posts that
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you and your ex see from each other. when we come back, the wait is over. "star wars" fans out in force to see the new movie. and say good-bye to a hollywood princess. [burke] at farmers, we've seen almost everything so we know how to cover almost anything. even a "red-hot mascot." hollywood princess. whoop, whoop! [crowd 1] hey, you're on fire! [mascot] you bet i am! [crowd 2] dude, you're on fire! [mascot] oh, yeah! [crowd 3] no, you're on fire! look behind you. [mascot] i'm cool. i'm cool. [burke] that's one way to fire up the crowd. but we covered it. talk to farmers. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪ burning, pins-and-needles, of diabetic nerve pain these feet... liked to style my dog as a kid... loved motherhood, rain or shine... and were pumped to open my own salon. but i couldn't bear my diabetic nerve pain any longer. so i talked to my doctor and she prescribed lyrica. nerve damage from diabetes causes diabetic nerve pain. lyrica is fda approved
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to treat this pain from moderate to even severe diabetic nerve pain. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions, tell your doctor right away if you have these, new or worse depression, unusual changes in mood or behavior, swelling, trouble breathing, rash, hives, blisters, muscle pain with fever, tired feeling or blurry vision. common side effects: dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain, swelling of hands, legs, and feet. don't drink alcohol while taking lyrica. don't drive or use machinery until you know how lyrica affects you. those who have had a drug or alcohol problem may be more likely to misuse lyrica.
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now i have less diabetic nerve pain. and i love grooming the next generation. ask your doctor about lyrica. finally tonight, return to a galaxy far, far away. the much anticipated "star wars: the last jedi" is now in theaters everywhere. and for generations of fans, it's a bittersweet moment as they flock to see the late carrie fisher in her iconic role as princess leia one last time. here's joe fryer. >> reporter: by now, after 40 years, we've grown accustomed to the lines, the costumes, the unwavering passion. >> just because we just finished it, i'm
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so psyched. >> it's rapturous. you can't -- you walk out tingling. it's an incredible experience. >> reporter: b t something different. it's carrie fisher's final performance as leia. >> there was a round of applause and kind of a sad feeling. you can just tell everyone was sad. >> reporter: today in boulder, colorado, seth haber closed his business, trek light gear, early just so his staff could go watch "star wars: the last jedi." >> i have to hope and dream it's the best thing ever. >> reporter: already the film has raked in $45 million at the box office, the second highest thursday night preview ever. it's the eighth episode in the franchise. >> it's about family. and that's what's so powerful about it. >> reporter: and for fisher, who was 20 when the first film premiered, it's the role that made her a star. she died just months after filming her scenes for "the last jedi." >> it's so hard for me to think of her in the past tense because
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she's so alive in my mind. in the film she's just wonderful. >> reporter: after 40 years, her force is still strong. joe fryer, nbc news, los angeles. we appreciate you spending part of your evening with us.
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that is "nightly news" for this friday night. i'm lester holt. and for all of us at nbc news, thank you for watching and good night. every single woman that speaks up and speak the out. >> meryl's support of salma and condemnation on who she says are

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